SALT LAKE CITY — Logan quarterback D.J. Nelson still has hecklers.
Even when he sets a single game state record with 606 yards of total offense. Even when he helps put a 59 on the scoreboard in a 59-30 win over Bountiful in the 4A semifinals Thursday afternoon.
Yes, fans still have the audacity to yell insults at the dynamic senior quarterback, such as "sunshine" in reference to his long hair. As Nelson was meeting with members of the media on Thursday afternoon, a fan of a different team shouted, "Riley's better" at him, alluding to his older brother, Riley, BYU's starting quarterback and former Logan record-setter.
"I know," Nelson responded to the fan and gave a thumbs up. "I know."
It was just that type of day for Nelson, where he had an answer for everything thrown at him while delivering one of the most spectacular offensive performances in state history. His 606 yards broke the old record of 583 yards held by former Mountain Crest quarterback Ryan Zimmerman set in 2002.
Nelson completed 27 of 38 passes for 417 yards and rushed 25 times for 189 yards. He accounted for seven touchdowns — five passing and two rushing. All that against a defense coached by Bountiful's Larry Wall —traditionally one of the best and most fundamentally sound in the state.
"I didn't know it was a record," Nelson said. "I knew I had a lot (of yards). But uh, I mean, it's pretty cool."
When the score was still close in the first half, Nelson's ability to keep plays alive when the Braves' defense seemingly had him stopped was a big key to Logan's success. He broke tackles, he kept his eyes downfield while scrambling and completed passes on the run. He also picked up yards on the ground on regular running plays.
"D.J. is insane," said Logan's John Schmidt, and he wasn't meaning in a hack-into-your-email-and-steal-your-personal-info type of crazy. "He's, in my eyes, the best player in the state. He can make something out of nothing as you can see."
Nelson got better as the game progressed. He made some mistakes before halftime, nearly throwing a pick-six near his own goalline, and throwing a forward pass on a trick play on a kickoff return. But his play was pretty much flawless in the second half, even when the ball popped out of his hands and fell right back into them while he rushed for a 12-yard touchdown.
"The impossible is possible with D.J.," said Logan coach Mike Favero. "I let D.J. do his deal. He knows our system. I think I've watched film with him since he was in the sixth grade with Riley and I and he. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He can call the game. I might watch next week."
Nelson has proven to be much like Riley during his senior season with his ability to put up staggering numbers, stay humble and win games — and now compete for a championship. He wasn't all that fazed about setting a state record, and instead talked about what it meant to get the Grizzlies to another state championship game.
In the 4A title game, Nelson and Logan will face East for the second time this season. Nelson threw three touchdown passes in a 46-14 victory in the regular season finale for both teams. The Leopards will have to play much better defense, and their fans will have to come up with improved insults to rattle the nearly unstoppable Nelson.
Riley's better? Pretty unoriginal and one that doesn't get under Nelson's skin.
"It doesn't bother me at all because Riley probably is better," Nelson said.
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